This very unusual Encyclopedia Britannica film from the 50s deals with the widespread environmental problems that were starting to emerge in the US mid-century. This is unusual both for its time and for Encyclopedia Britannica, which usually steered clear of political issues. Itâs narrated by a folksinger, who breaks into song during transitions. He tells us about how the land has changed in many ways since the country got started, and shows us examples of farmland that has deteriorated into unusable wasteland, due to erosion, poor farming practices, and cut-and-run logging. Then it starts to tell us the story of an African-American farm family in the South, which is again unusual for its time. The father had inherited his farm from his father and hoped to pass it along to his son, but that dream was shattered when a new dam flooded his land. He got a good price from the government for his place, but it forced him and his family to completely change their way of life. Unfortunately, the film is incomplete and cuts off at this point, so we donât get to hear the end of the story. Itâs too bad the entire film wasnât preserved, because it has lots of historical value in being way ahead of its time both in terms of its environmental concerns and its willingness to portray African-Americans in a positive light.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
Annoying pseudo-folk music sung by fat voiced narrator between bits of conservationist expository. Later day environmentalists may find the arguments a bit pro business.
October 30, 2003 Subject:
Was this made by the Quakers?
Another candidate in the VERY small subsection called "Important Films with a narrator that breaks into Folk Music every couple of lines or so" ("It Takes Everybody to Build This Land" wins the prize for this singlehandedly still) Look To The Land tells of how beautiful this land was, but NOW look at it! This is a perfect opposite of a lot of "Let's exploit the land!" a lot of big business films have on this site, and takes a very harshly negative anti-business approach, as if foresting, mining and mechanization is the evil of everything. Although I only got to see a 10 minute segment, the film is an interesting sit through, infused with (argh) folk music and might be of your time to take a quick look at.
Presents the viewpoint that America has often unwisely used its land and forest resources, that all people are dependent upon the land and must, therefore, be directly concerned with problems of conservation. Documents the misuse of these resources and the resulting problems, as the Wanderer (narrator) visits a New England farm auction, the Connecticut Valley, an Alabama cotton farmer, a Dakota farmer, a Wyoming cattleman, and a timberland region. Illustrates the interdependence of all the people in a river basin. Includes folk songs as background music.